There have always been rumours that apps on your smartphone keep track of everywhere you go, so it probably comes as little surprise that Google does exactly that.
Any information they have is meant to be used to give you a more personalised experience, such as maps giving you recommendations based on places you’ve visited, real-time traffic updates based on your commute, help finding your phone and adverts tailored to your interests.
While many people may find these things useful, other may not feel comfortable with the idea of Google holding onto this information about them indefinitely.
Previously, if you enabled Location History the only way to delete that data was to go into your app settings and remove it manually.
However, Google recently introduced a new setting that allows you to automatically delete your location history after a fixed period of time,
There are currently only two option available – automatically deleting Location History after three months, or after 18 months – but both are better options than leaving a trial of information that you may not wish Google or others to see.
Here’s how to automatically delete your Location History on Andoid and iOS:
- Open the Google Maps app.
- In the top left, tap the Menu icon and select Your timeline.
- In the top right, tap the More icon and select Settings and privacy.
- Scroll to Location settings.
- Tap “Automatically delete Location History”.
- Follow the on-screen instructions.
If you’d prefer to turn off Location History altogether, you can do so in the Location History section of your Google account.
You can also set time limits on how long Google can keep your Web & App Activity, which includes data about websites you visit and apps you use.
Google uses this data to give you faster searches, better recommendations and more personalised experiences in Maps, Search and other Google services.
Again, you have the option to automatically delete this data after three or 18 months.
Here’s how to do that:
- Open the Gmail app.
- In the top left, tap the Menu icon and select “Settings”.
- Select your account and then tap “Manage your Google Account”.
- At the top, tap “Data & personalisation”.
- Under Activity controls tap “Web & App Activity”.
- Tap “Manage activity”.
- At the top right, tap the More icon and then select “Keep activity for”.
- Tap the option for how long you want to keep your activity, and then tap “Next”.
- Confirm to save your choice.
The new tools are part of Google’s efforts to give users more control over their data.
The company has also introduced “incognito mode” in a number of its smartphone apps, which stops Google tracking your activity.